Duke Plans $77 Million Engineering Center

DURHAM, N.C. -- The Duke University Board of Trustees Saturday began the approval process for a $77 million Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering and Applied Sciences that would more than triple research, teaching, office and conference space at the Pratt School of Engineering.

The trustees also authorized the start of planning for a $16 million addition to the Divinity School that would be built in a high-profile site just north of Duke Chapel, and approved the design of a $25 million addition to the Fuqua School of Business's Keller Center to house a student center and offices.

Preliminary design studies for the new engineering complex by the architectural firm of Zimmer, Gunsul, Frasca call for two wings, one of which would house the Pratt School's department of biomedical engineering and the other for developing new engineering programs like photonics, materials systems and nanosciences. There would also be an auditorium and additional community space where students and professors can meet and interact.

Adding about 240,000 additional square feet to the Pratt School's current 101,000 square feet of available space, the current plan calls for the new center complex to be constructed in front of the Pratt school's two existing buildings, Hudson Hall and the Nello L. Teer Engineering Library Building.

Saturday's action approved the site and scope of the project and authorized the university to hire an architect. The university will return to the board later to seek final plan approval and authorization to proceed with construction.

Under a current estimated timetable, groundbreaking would be in August 2001 and occupancy in September 2003.

The new additions, to be paid for with internal funds, philanthropic gifts and an internal loan, will put the school more on a par with available space at competing universities like Rice, Princeton and Carnegie Mellon, officials said.

More space is needed to accommodate planned growth at the Pratt School, which in 1999 received a $35 million endowment gift from Edmund T. Pratt Jr., a retired chairman and chief executive officer of Pfizer Inc. who was a member of Duke's engineering Class of 1947.

Divinity School Dean L. Gregory Jones said the planned addition to the Divinity Building would alleviate a "severe shortage" of classroom and office space for the school and provide a large state-of-the-art lecture hall and a new school chapel that would seat 250 to 300 people. The trustees Saturday approved the site and scope of the plan and authorized selection of an architect. The university will seek final approval of the project later.

The planning for the addition to the Keller Center at the Fuqua School of Business is farther along. Saturday's action by the board approved the design of the 100,000-square-foot addition. The school plans to return to the board in December to seek authorization to begin construction. There will be a two-story atrium and a five-story "mini-tower."